Abortion is a divisive, traumatizing topic for many people and in light of the bombshell Supreme Court decision, it’s easy to lament or celebrate depending on which side you’re on. Neither approach serves humanity’s best interests because neither reaction is going to help humanity, and helping humanity is vital if we’re going to prevent horrific, anti-humanity outcomes like lasting harms to women and children. If we’re going to put humanity first, we need to do what is most effective in reducing and eliminating those harms.
Let’s start with defining what those harms are. What are things that we can consider harmful? Growing up without enough food, water, or shelter and not getting basic needs met is definitely harmful according to most people and modern science. There are also other things that are indisputably harmful such as physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, as well as neglect. Other direct harms like murder, suicide, self-harm, domestic violence, sexual violence, are equally indisputable.
There are other harms that take more nuance to understand, such as the war on drugs and its political basis and how these conflict with medical science. For example, we know that people with substance use disorder will seek out drugs anyways, and harm reduction approaches such as setting up medically supervised sites can benefit the community by not only reducing their ability to do dangerous things while under the influence, but by having medical staff on hand to prevent overdoses.
While slightly more controversial, there’s no denying the evidence behind some of these more nuanced harms, sources of harms, and how we can mitigate those harms or prevent them in the first place. Abortion is one of those nuanced harm subjects, because it takes research and critical thinking to understand its cause and effects. At the most basic level, people who don’t have access to safe, clinical abortion are likely to attempt other means to abort their pregnancy, and these ways can put their health at risk.
People who are not in a good position to carry and birth a human being, often due to situational factors beyond their control, will now be forced to bring the child up in an environment of neglect where their basic needs are not met. Even if they plan to give up the child for adoption, they probably won’t be able to afford the needed prenatal care. These children often end up waiting in orphanages and foster homes to be adopted, adding to their trauma.
From a moral standpoint, even if we’re against abortion, focusing on this evidence and the way policy plays out on large populations is essential. If the overall moral goal is to have fewer abortions happening, then we should look at which countries have the lowest abortion rates. For this, I did a search and one of the top results was an article done on a study in 2020 showing that there is a correlation between abortion’s legal status and how often abortion happens. They found that when countries restrict access to abortions, abortion rates are higher, and in high-income countries when abortion and contraception are available and accessible, there are fewer abortions.
Purely from moral grounds, if we are pro-life and wish there to be fewer abortions, the counter-intuitive but research-backed solution is to allow abortion. Even if you take the stance that abortion is murder, the most effective way for there to be fewer abortions is to allow it. I have not bandied my abortion beliefs around, but I don’t like ending the life or potential life of a human being and I don’t think people should get abortions if they can avoid them. That’s my moral belief. Yet, for anyone to tell women what they must do with their bodies is also morally wrong. This is because it restricts someone’s freedom based on the projection of moral ideas.
Conversely, if we are pro-choice merely on the grounds of being free to do what one wishes and we think that voting in elections will achieve this freedom, then we have not learned from history. People determined to dictate how others live their lives will not play by the rules. They will engage in strategies that ignore the rules and use the system for their benefit, and voting is simply not enough to make a difference. Protesting and making their strategies as inconvenient and difficult as possible, even to the point of civil disobedience, are effective, as the events of 2020 showed us. This is the only real way to combat harmful efforts to steal away people’s choices and freedoms.
Calling out harm is not enough. If we are to be effective in reducing harm, we must be loud about why things are harmful and why the harm cannot be allowed. It is not enough to simply wish to reduce harm, we need to vehemently oppose harms so that people have no other option but to listen and to act. This is a culture war, an ideological battle for the right to well-being. “Thoughts and prayers,” voting, and blog posts are simply not enough. We need to fight this cultural war as if our very humanity depends on it, because otherwise we might wake up one day, being ignorant of the history and politics, to discover in horror that we’ve already lost.
In practice, we must confront those waging cultural war, and we must do it in a way that makes their participation in cultural warfare difficult or impossible. We must treat it as a war, and that means whatever strategy by which we can win is on the table. If we must arrest and incarcerate people for participating in an attempted coup, we must do exactly that. If we must impeach Supreme Court justices that show a willingness to abuse their position and render biased judgments, and pack the court with reasonable, impartial people who refuse to be compromised by corruption, then that is what we must do. If we have a large group of people who think they can subvert our elections and stage a coup with the support of then-president Trump in ways that justify removing their right to vote, we should remove their right to vote.
There is no room for taking half-measures in war, whether it is a cultural or a physical fight. Winning must be the priority, because our humanity and well-being are at stake. When we have people celebrating things that will cause harm at the policy level, Americans trying to stage a coup, and fascist demonstrators entering libraries where children are being read to and confronting LGBTQ+ people at pride events, we are in a cultural war. We have legislators trying to change section 230 and hold social media platforms responsible for the content of their users, and a political group that acts more like an organized crime mob.
We are in a culture war.
It’s time we fight back.